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|Author:||rajalakshmi [ 02 Apr 2016 12:25 ]|
|Post subject:||My story|
Recently I got a mail from Badri where he suggested that I write about my life after graduation. First I thought of my Curriculum Vitae but then I thought that I can as well write about my life experiences only.
Well, soon after our graduation in January 1968, I applied for a non teaching job and got a posting in Karaikudi. I did not want to go that far from my home and so I joined Senior house surgeoncy at the General hospital. Meanwhile I was trying to write the ECFMG exam . But I could not get proper guidance for that. I divided the whole period into 6 months of general medicine and the others as Surgery, and Paediatrics. I tried Anaesthesia but left after one day because it was difficult to pass the endotrachial tube! Pushpa was with me during the medicine posting. I did the posting in Dr. Sam G.P. Moses’ Unit. Dr. Gandhi was the Assistant Civil Surgeon there.
I finished the Senior House surgeoncy in Feb. 1969,and applied for DCH and DGO. I was offered only DGO and I did not want to do it. Meanwhile my marriage arramngements were going on and I got married to Dr. K.A.V.R. Krishnamachari from Vizag. He was in the final year of MD General Medicine and was a brilliant student . I thought of trying my luck at Vizag in getting a DCH seat. I was very much interested in Paediatrics. The Telengana agitation was going on at that time.
I got married on 2nd June, 1969 and left for Vizag in July. There I was offered a seat In MD Gynaecology which I refused. I got another offer for M.D. Physiology and so I joined it though reluctantly. My husband could not get a proper posting at the State Govt. and so he tried and got a job in The National Institute of Nutrition , Hyderabad. It is one of the research Institutes of ICMR ( Indian Council of Medical Research) under the Union Health Ministry. Dr.C. Gopalan, an alumnus of Madras Medical College was the Director of the Institute at that time. I was trying my luck in private practice for some time . I got a Junior research fellowship in OG from ICMR. This was to be done in the Niloufer Hospital for Women and children. Our institute was having the collaboration with this hospital for its clinical division in Paediatric and maternal nutrirtion. My subject for research was “ the effect of low dosage oral contraceptives on the vaginal mucosa, cervical epithelium and endometrium”. One post graduate in MD Obst and Gynaec. Was assigned to me because it involved endometrial biopsy for which I was not allowed. The pathologist of Niloufer hospital was helping me in interpretation of the sections made. I had to work in Family Planning O.P. , Gynaecology dept and in the Pathology dept. I did it for one year and submitted my report to ICMR..
I was still interested in doing my PG in Paediatrics and getting a seat there was very difficult as I was considered as an outsider being from Tamil nadu state. There was a provision to do D.C.H. It was called as Bombay DCH. It was by the Institute of physicians and Surgeons at Bombay. Those who wish to do PG in Paediatrics can do it in any of the hospitals all over India recognized by this institute. They should undergo the exam at the end of one year in Bombay. My friends tried to discourage me saying that it may not be recognized by the MCI but I wanted to do it because of my love for paediatrics. Niloufer hospital was one of the best paediatric hospital with a well developed Neonatalogy unit. The Professors were very well known and so I joined as a PG in DCH. It was very tough because we had to do a lot of night duties but I was very happy with the teaching and other facilities there. Towards the end of the DCH course I was suddenly offered the post of Asst. Research Officer in the clinical division of NIN, but in maternal nutrition. I was reluctant but I accepted it as it was the first job offer I got and it was a Central Govt. job. I had to leave Bombay DCH. I was short of doing Radiology and Nutrition postings but I was helpless. I joined The N.I.N. as an Asst research Officer.in May 1972. I continued my research in maternal nutrition. The first study I was involved was the iron folic acid supplementation studies on pregnant women. Our study showed a significant increase of birth weight of the babies of women supplied both iron and folic acid. Also these children when followed showed better mental development. ICMR recommended to the Govt. of India that every pregnant woman should be supplemented with iron and folic acid tablets throughout pregnancy and lactation. Also it helped in reducing the incidence of anaemia in pregnant women. Later on I found that this is followed all over India. I am proud to be a part of this study.
I was in NIN till 1983 and did research on many subjects. Though the research aspect was good, not being able to do my postgraduation was gnawing at my heart. I had my first child in 1973 and was immersed in my duties. We have a M.Sc. Nutrition in our Institute and we used to get medical persons from all over India, Phillippines , Indonesia , Bangladesh and Thailand. Some of the medical people from the Institute were also taken for this course. The degree is from Osmania University. But I was not given a chance due to local politics. One of the former students from Surat , Gujarat , Dr.Vikas Desai was involved in the Fluorosis research along with my husband , suggested that I can do MD in PSM(Preventive and Social medicine) from The South Gujarat University . There was MD course at Madras also but I hesitated to shift there because I had to resign my job. She had said that I could stay at Hyderabad and go there once in 6 months and the thesis work could be done at Hyderabad itself. There was an All India programme on Iodine Deficiency Disorders going on at Surat Medical college, supported by ICMR. Dr. Vikas was the local coordinator and my husband was the ICMR coordinator and Director of the programme. So my husband suggested that I take up this opportunity and join MD at Surat Medical college. But by that time the rules were changed. The out of the State students were required to be full time at the Dept. PSM. It was in 1983 , I was 39 years old and I had 2 kids. My second one was just 20 months old. But my husband insisted that I should go there on a transfer and do my MD with the permission of ICMR.The NIN people also agreed to take me back once I finished my MD. Though the course was for 3 years , I was given exception because of my long years in medical research. I did my thesis in Iodine deficiency.It was very difficult because PSM subjects have been expanded and I literally had to learn my theory from the Bible of PSM , namely Park’s book on PSM.
During the end of this period, my husband got a fellowship of United Nations University to do MPH (Master of Public Health) at The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.After finishing my MD successfully,I took leave for 4 months and left for the USA with my kids in October 1985. I was given J2 visa and my husband had J1. After going there I joined a course in Nutrition at the School of Public Health by paying money . There I was invited to present my research work . I presented my study on supplementation of Iron and Folic acid . Dr. David Paige who was the Director of MPH Programme was very much impressed and asked me to join MPH as a special student. This was in January 1986. We did not have the money but one of the classmates of my husband offered to lend us the money . He said that it was really a great opportunity to be invited and I should not miss it . I took Maternal and child health as my required subject. It was tough but I could get A in almost all the subjects. I finished in December 1986 with a good GPA and had to return to India, though reluctantly.
After returning to India , my husband took over the directorship of the Desert Medicine Research Institute in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and I too took a transfer to Jodhpur, in July,1987.While I was there , I got a WHO fellowship to visit and learn about Nutrition and Goitre in the USA. I asked for 4 institutes/universities, in Washington D.C., Baltimore ( My almamater) , West Virginia , and University of California at Davies. This was for 3 months., from Feb. to May 1991.
We were in Jodhpur for 4 years till july 1991 when we shifted to the Regional Medical Research Institute, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa. I took voluntary retirement from ICMR in June 1992 and Joined the British Council as a consultant in Maternal and child health. I had to shift again to Hyderabad as my husband joined the British Council school Health Project in Andhra Pradesh as the Chief . I continued to be a free lance consultant, consultant in the British council till 1995. I was selected as the Professor of Epidemiology in the Indian Institute of Health and Family Welfare in October 1995 . This was a state govt. Institute but was sponsored by the World Bank. We were asked to conduct research projects and submit the report to the World Bank. I finished my project on Immunization Status of children in Andhra Pradesh and submitted the report in April 1997. I resigned and joined the Public Health Faculty of The AlArab university of Health( Jamat al Arab Thabia) as professor of Nutrition. Both my husband and myself were invited by the Chairman of the Faculty, Dr. Omar el Sudani, who was impressed by our C.V. This was the first teaching experience we got but we were able to it very well. This involved not only teaching MBBS students but also guiding postgraduate students in Community and Family medicine.
We left Libya in 1999 and came back to India. I joined one NGO as consultant in AIDS . Meanwhile my husband developed renal failure and had to be put on haemodialysis. This made me very busy.Meanwhile I worked in the Apollo hospital Medvarsity and International Vaccine Institute, South Korea,--of course in A.P. Initially he was able to work but he was not able to continue after 2 years. So I was pushed to become the sole breadwinner as my son was still a student in Singapore. I took up the offer of teaching in a newly started Medical collage in Vizianagaram dist. I took up a flat in Vizag and going up and down from there everyday. I was the head of PSM dept. My husband passed away in 2005 and I continued in the same college . But the college ran into some difficulties and they were not paying our salaries properly. I applied for a professor post in Ethiopia in 2006 . Though I was selected in walking interview, and even signed the contract for 2 years, they did not give me a visa for 6 months. I got fed up and applied to China . Again there was not a good response and so I applied to Tanzania. This was an Indian Organization having their own Medical and technological university at Dares Salam. They got me the visa immediately and asked me to proceed to Dar es Salam. So I left for DSA in April 2007 and joined there as Prof. and Head of Community Medicine. I signed the contract for 2 years. This same org. had a medical college at Guntur in A.P.I worked there for 1 and half years and came back to India in October 2008. Since the contract period was not over , they told me to take up a similar post at Guntur. I came back to Hyderabad in April 2009 after conducting the Final MBBS examination.
I was nearing 65 years and according to MCI we cannot work after 65 years . The management wanted me to continue saying that they will not shoe me to MCI at the time of inspection but I was not happy with their behavior. My health also started giving me trouble and so I decided to be at Hyderabad , finally retiring .
During my service in the ICMR, I had the opportunity to attend various research conferences and present my papers of original work.I give the list as follows:-
1. Trace Element Nutrition in Humans and animals, held at Perth, Western Australia , May 1981.I visited Singapore on my return.
2. Trace element Nutrition conference on working methodologies and research strategies, held in Munich,Germany, April 1984. I was invited to the Trace Element Institute at Koln, Germany and the University of Ghent, Belgium. I visited these places after the conference.
3. International conference on Fluorosis, Morioka, Japan, June, 1985. I visited Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Bangkok during this trip.
4. International conference on Iodine Deficiency Disorders , Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, May 1990
5. As a member of Nutrition Society of India and Fellow of Indian Environmental Society , I had attended, presented my papers in many conferences all over India. The last one I attended was at CMC. Dr. Jayaprakash Mullial, head of Community Medicine was my class fellow at The Johns Hopkins University, during MPH.
6. I visited 23 countries totally and lived in 3 countries-----USA,Libya and Tanzania
I have published around 20 papers , in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Indian Journal of Medical Research, Indian Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Indian journal of Anthropology etc. I underwent training at the AIIMS, NewDelhi , for Radioimmunoassay of cord blood samples for thyroid hormones and TSH. My work at NIN involved Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy and Infra red spectroscope etc.
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